Years past I was in a church where the Pastors both kept a record of all the wrongs and works of their members and avoided at all costs looking and confessing their own. (But – to some, as myself, – these flaws came out and were known. My struggle has been to receive them in silent washings. Washings in His word.)
I remember sitting in the pastor’s office where there was a chart on his wall of all the works and service of the members. His recording.
These two co-leaders were flawed priests- flawed wanting to be ‘high priests.’ As new born Pauls they spoke, judged and gazed with incomplete empathy and sympathy.
Yet God does not desire to leave Pauls incomplete. Look at the historical Paul in a Roman prison cell. There, alone, except for Luke, he writes…
Do your best to come to me quickly for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me and has gone to …
Paul, in writing to Timothy (2: 9-10), desires community: a Favorite warming cloak; a scroll; friends- and especially John Mark. He needs to receive John Mark to become complete.
Before in the book of Acts (15: 36-41) Paul could not forgive or let John Mark journey with him and Barnarbas.
John Mark had deserted them on the first part of their missionary journey and now wanted to return to join them again. But Paul, the record keeping high priest says an empathic no. His judging Pharisee spirit will not allow him the empathy, the sympathy, the spiritual grace to forgive. He is an incomplete high priest, especially to himself.
Paul needs to be Roman imprisonment, to be chained and stripped, in order to leave his own priesthood and become God’s – God’s High Priest, -a compassionate and forgiving father of prodigals.
Paul is then completing his journey to becoming a sympathetic High Priest, a father and lover of flawed children. And he needs quickness to complete this passage.
He needs a quick God, a quick, quick Jesus. And Jesus comes in the form of community, in the person of John Mark. ‘… Get (John) Mark and bring him with you, because he is helpful to me in my ministry. (2nd Timothy: 11 b)
Paul in order to become His High Priest needs the compassionate presence of community, and especially the person John Mark.
We see in Luke 15 we see the Prodigal Father run to his son with the passion of a true High Priest.
Luke 15: 20-22-24
“But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him...”
“But the father said to his servants, ‘Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.’ So they began to celebrate.
The son’s practiced speech to his father is stopped in its mid point. No reason to say ‘I no longer am your so .’ Forgiveness given completely and received. It is quick, total; loving and free.
And the author of Hebrews tells us we have a High Priest, a Prodigal loving father, who, because He was tempted in every way, is sympathetic, compassionate-a complete High Priest-
Hebrews 2: 17And for this purpose (our salvation ) it was necessary that in all respects He should be made to resemble His brothers, so that He might become a compassionate and faithful High Priest in things relating to God, in order to atone for the sins of the people. 18For inasmuch as He has Himself felt the pain of temptation and trial, He is also able instantly to help those who are tempted and tired.
A completed High Priest does not just give forgiveness but feels forgiveness. No records or judgements. No wall charts. They write, speak and share in sufferings and flaws. They are perfected by His cloak, His covering. Receivers they who give.
As Peter in a Jerusalem prison who as Paul in Rome needs a quick cloak, a covering…
1 It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this met with approval among the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Festival of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover. 5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. “Quick, get up!” he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists. 8 Then the angel said to him, “Put on your clothes and sandals.” And Peter did so. “Wrap your cloak around you and follow me,” the angel told him.
Patiently, I also desire quickness in my life today. I quickly desire healing love- both to receive and give. I deeply desire my broken leg to heal. But, paradoxically…
I cannot be complete without waiting in loving patience. What I need is to accept those who are not ordained to speak, give, touch and place it into my life. Accept them as they are in His love, not my own. If in my impure Pharisee ‘love‘ I will stay as incomplete as I presently am. First I must wash in this word, His word, daily:
Freely I must receive so I can freely give. Matthew 10:8
so..Come John Mark, and come quickly.